Support High School Arts column

This column ran in the March 21 Westlock News. However, since I tend to ramble, it had to be cut back in order to fit into the space set aside for it.

So, without any further ado, here is my column in its unabridged form.


In pursuit of my desire to deny that I’m getting older, I have started to relive some parts of my past.

Not so much dressing like I did when I was younger, or engaging in risky activities that high school kids are wont to do as remembering what it was like in my high school days and the role the arts played in my high school experience.

OK, I lied. I still dress like I did when I was younger.

Back on topic. High school arts.

The arts played a huge role in giving me the high school experience I had. Each and every year I was in high school I spent hours upon hours in the band room. It was my sanctuary, mostly.

It was through high school band that I made most of the friends I have today.

And how many other people can say that they went to Europe not once, but twice as part of a school trip? These weren’t trips simply to tour England, France, Belgium (the second one), or Germany and Austria (the first one). No, these two trips were to perform in Europe.

So what has prompted me to wax nostalgic? Grease.

It’s that simple. R.F. Staples’ performance of Grease has brought me back to my high school arts days.

After the final show, as I was compiling my wrap-up piece, I spoke to Anne-Marie Switzer about working with the cast to prepare for opening night.

She spoke about how, along the way, there are stumbling blocks and small mistakes and things may just seem hopeless. But when the curtain raises on opening night, something clicks and, as she said, “Bam! They put it on.”

As she was saying that, I was getting serious goose bumps. It was all coming back to me.

You see, I was in the pit band in Grade 12 when my school put on Gershwin’s “Crazy for You.” So I knew exactly what she meant about there being something about opening night.

I can’t explain it. I really can’t. It’s just the buzz in the air and the knowledge that when the baton drops on the opening downbeat and the curtain raises, you’re on. There’s no turning back. It’s a rush of adrenaline that sweeps right through you. You’re stressed beyond belief that you might make a mistake, but you charge on.

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: Unless you’ve been in a show, either on stage or in the pit, there is nothing, I repeat NOTHING, like the rush you get on your first opening night.

So here I am, going on seven years since that night, and I’m getting teary-eyed thinking back to my pit band days. It’s a memory that will stay with me forever.

So in short, support your high school arts. For some kids, it’s the last time they’ll be involved in the arts. Help them cherish it as much as I did. They will thank you for it.

I know I do.